THREE weeks ago, Christopher Borja, more popularly known as Inday Garutay, was told to leave the Aruba Bar in Pasig City for wearing a woman’s dress. Clad in a beige blouse and black lady’s pants that night, Borja was waiting for his talent manager with his boyfriend when he was asked by the restaurant’s manager to leave for violating the establishment’s dress code.

Aruba Bar has a long-standing dress code that prohibits the entry of cross-dressing gay men and transsexuals. But Borja said that the restaurant’s dress-code notice only prohibits entry to those in slippers, shorts and sandos. (See photo of Aruba Bar’s dress-code door sign here.)

For this reason, the TV talent and gay impersonator has filed a case of discrimination before the Pasig trial court against Aruba Bar and is seeking P630,000 in damages.

The incident has caused much uproar among the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender community and has put the spotlight on two pending bills in Congress seeking to penalize discrimination against the said sector.

Lagablab-Pilipinas, the Lesbian and Gay Legislative Advocacy Network, a coalition of various gay and lesbian groups and inidviduals, has been lobbying for the passage of Senate Bill No. 1738, the Anti-Discrimination Bill, to recognize the rights of lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgenders (LGBTs).

The group’s current open-letter campaign addressed to Senator Ramon “Bong” Revilla Jr., principal author of SB 1738, has been successful in urging the legislator to immediately call a committee hearing to discuss the bill. On August 9, the Senate Committee on Labor, Employment and Human Resources Development chaired by Senator Jose “Jinggoy” Estrada will be holding an initial public hearing on the Revilla-proposed bill.

The hearing on SB 1738 comes on the heels of the approval by the House of Representatives Committee on Civil, Political, and Human Rights of its counterpart bill on first reading. House Bill No. 634 filed by Akbayan party-list Reps. Etta Rosales, Mayong Aguja, and Risa Hontiveros-Baraquel, is now up for second reading.

In pushing for an anti-discrimination law, Lagablab believes that discrimination is still the “most debilitating issue” for Filipino gays and lesbians, saying that they are only accepted by the general public as long as they remain inside the confines of stereotypes such as beauticians, ticket collectors, or entertainers.

In its open letter, Lagablab said:

The first step to end all forms of abuses and discrimination against Filipino LGBTs is the enactment of a new law that criminalizes discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. The equal protection clause of the 1987 Constitution needs to be affirmed by such legislation — not only to stop discriminatory practices and policies, but to challenge deeply embedded social norms and attitudes that directly or indirectly contribute to equal rights violations of Filipino lesbians and gays.

It also pointed out that the enactment of such a piece of legislation would give flesh to the Philippines’s commitment to eliminate all forms of discrimination as a signatory to various international agreements on human rights, including the Universal Declaration on Human Rights, International Convention on Civil, Political, and Human Rights, and International Convention on Economic and Social Rights.

6 Responses to Senate to tackle bill penalizing prejudicial treatment of gay community



August 4th, 2006 at 9:40 pm

I wonder what the Catholic Church will say about this.

But putting the demand of the gay sector aside, I notice blatant discrimination in our society:

*Job ads specifically asking for a certain age and gender.

*Hotels and other city establishments searching their own fellow Filipinos before allowing them to enter as white western Europeans (Caucasians) pass through security unchecked.

*Faces of white-skinned (mestizo preferred) models on gigantic, ugly billboards line the streets of decaying Manila that basically say: I’M BEAUTIFUL, BUY MY PRODUCT SO YOU CAN PRETEND TO BE ME.

The PCIJ should investigate the above which I think are more important than this gay bill–sponsored by an actor who normally deal with the gays in the entertainment industry. (This is a progressive step but will SB1738 serve the Filipinos at large or is it a self-serving bill for the well-connected gays?)

I’d like to see Ricky Reyes use Elizabeth Ramsey as his model than Gloria Romero.



August 5th, 2006 at 3:20 am

funny, ryebosco, but by dismissing the discrimination being faced by Filipino lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgenders, you have just provided yet another example of ‘blatant discrimination in our society.’

I do hope you read the bills (SBN 1738 / HB 634), because they would answer some of your concerns. If enacted, they would actually address a wide range of practices and policies that unduly restrict the exercise and enjoyment by lesbians and gays of rights and freedoms accorded to all – the right to education (which is violated by schools that impose ‘masculity tests’) or equal protection (a noble human rights principle that policemen rountinely violate when they arrest gay men because of the anti-vagrancy law.

Discrimination is a bread and butter issue. If you have been fired from work because of your sexuality or if were told to leave your home because you are gay or lesbian, then the universality of human rights is threatened. The entire society does gain from the passage of bills like SBN 1738 and HB 634.



August 5th, 2006 at 4:09 am

Sometimes in l982, our Government of the Day came to the Realization, that discrimination in any form was one obstacle that still hinders the unity, development and our progress as a Nation and without further Ado, enshrined in our constitution a Provision of Equality Rights (all of two sections) and has become the basis of Minimizing to the Minimum of not entirely eliminating discrimination totally. It was also the basis for the Supreme Court to declare that marriage between two consenting adults of similar sex will carry the same legal rights and status of the traditional marriages between man and woman. It eliminates discrimination in the work place. It granted the rights to the mentally and physically disabled member of our society along with the social benefits. And you don’t have to worry because you are brown, yellow, black, or even white. A good feeling for those who had experienced blatant discrimination in their own backyard, regardless of there is a law or absence against it.
1. Equality Rights Equality before and under law and equal protection and benefit of law 15. (1) Every individual is equal before and under the law and has the right to the equal protection and equal benefit of the law without discrimination and, in particular, without discrimination based on race, national or ethnic origin, colour, religion, sex, age or mental or physical disability.

Affirmative action programs (2) Subsection (1) does not preclude any law, program or activity that has as its object the amelioration of conditions of disadvantaged individuals or groups including those that are disadvantaged because of race, national or ethnic origin, colour, religion, sex, age or mental or physical disability.


Ambuot Saimo

August 5th, 2006 at 5:05 am

Yessss!!! The passage of Anti-Discrimination Law is long overdue in the Philippines. By discrimination I mean, all forms of discriminations such as involving age, disability, ethnicity or race, physical appearance, height & weight, social status, accent, school of graduation, etc. and not just limited to sexual orientation as envisioned in the Senate Bill.

It’s sad that despite the Philippines claiming itself aligned with so-called civilized nations of the world education-wise, we still lag behind with passage of laws protecting human rights. We practice discrimination openly as if it is just an ordinary norm of the society. Consider these:

Prospective employers openly advertise that they only need applicants with “pleasing personality, of certain height and age, a graduate of such school/s, etc. and persons who does not met the above initial requirements need not apply.” OMG!!!

If you do it in the place where I am, such kind of an advertisement could potentially translate into lawsuits involving millions of dollars in damages against the company or employer because it violates the City, State and Federal anti-Dicrimination Laws. Yes… we have city, state and federal discrimination laws. Under federal law supremacy clause doctrine, federal laws preempts or is supreme than state or local law unless it gives more protection to its citizen. Our state and city laws gives even more protection to the citizens in the form of stiffer penalties and less stringent evidentiary rules requirement. If you are fired discriminatorily or a job applicant and believed you were not hired because of your race, age, sex or sexual orientation, etc. you can file an action against the company. So, in the selection process, employers strictly adhere to certain procedures to make sure there is no badge or color of discrimination. Even government entities are not immune.

One interesting feature under Federal Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) is that if they found your complaint as meritorious, they can take over the case and pursue the case in your behalf.

Incidentally, our office handles labor employment cases and we have hundreds of dicrimination cases involving of millions of dollars usually in settlements because respondents are adamant to proceed to trials because in cases like this jurors are usually sympathetic to plaintiffs.

So much for that and back to Pinas.

Jobs in the Philippines usually fall under three categories: Managerial; Supervisory; Rank-and-Files.

Mangerial jobs are usually reserved or occupied by children of the rich, mestizos or graduates of expensive schools; honor graduates of other schools usually occupy the supervisoy level; and the ones with pleasing personality, with height, young and able bodied occupies the rank-and-file. The unfortunate others (shorty, native pinoy in appearance, with promdi accent) are jobless unless they take jobs not suited to their profession and many end up with tag “Maid In The Philippines”. In short, ordinary people who are graduates from ordinary schools have no chance of getting better job even if they possess the necessary qualification for the job. Now tell me, is it not dicrimination?

Again, the reason for not passing such laws is lack of political will of our elite-dominated or controlled congress. Do you think they will pass a law that will punish themselves? Of course not!!!. But let’s find out.



August 5th, 2006 at 7:38 am

Meron o walang Anti-Discrimination Law, nakatatak na sa iba sa atin ang double standard at discrimination. Hindi lang sa kasarian, nagkakaiba rin ang tawag sa mga may pera at wala.

Mayaman – gay, homo, lesbian
Mahirap – bakla, bading, bayot, tibo

Mayaman – petite, vertically challenged, short
Mahirap – pandak, unano, punggok

Mayaman – morena, tanned
Mahirap – negra, ulikba, nog-nog

Mayaman – chubby, healthy
Mahirap – baboy, balyena, dabyana

Mayaman – slim, thin, sexy
Mahirap – payatot, butiki, palito

Mayaman – Mestiza, fair-skinned
Mahirap – Mestisang bangus, anak-araw

Mayaman – tall, dark and handsome
Mahirap – Kapreng maitim na OK lang



August 5th, 2006 at 12:17 pm

If there is going to be a true absence of discrimination in the Philippines, then we should outlaw the degrading portrayal of gay, handicapped, “facially-challenged” people, dwarves, dark-skinned people etc. in Philippine cinema.

And at the end of the day, there will be a disjoint with what the Church teaches in its Sunday masses. There is also scorn directed against single parents (specially single mothers), live-in couples, etc.

When we mature as a people and become more of a thinking people rather than a judgmental people; when we learn the difference between spirituality and religiousness (the earlier is open and accepting while the latter is dogmatic and judgmental), then maybe we can start to go down the path to a society where equality is practiced and not merely legislated.

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